“Evening Rob,” says Gary Byrne. “I think the question that really needs answering is: will the European Super League use VAR?”
That made me chuckle. Then I remembered this from Sean Ingle’s exclusive.
The Super League ownership and governance structure is designed to allow us to rapidly adopt and incorporate new ideas into the competition. Whether it’s changes in live match distribution formats, technology-enhanced rule implementation or player development, we can no longer rely on external bodies to drive progress in these areas.
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville have been quite majestic on Sky Sports, ferociously eloquent for the best part of an hour. Here’s more from Carragher.
I think people are already starting to turn away from football. VAR’s a big part of that. And this will turn away a generation of supporters who grew up loving football. It’ll just become boring, because there’s nothing there. Football can take you to a place that nothing else can. This league will never take you to that place, ever again.
“Hi Rob,” says David Wall. “Is there any point Liverpool putting any effort into tonight’s game now? They don’t want to qualify for next year’s Champions League and won’t participate if they do. So why even bother trying to win? The only real gain for them left this year is getting in the top four, which only brings CL qualification and a little extra money. Why not just use it as a training match to give experience to some of their youth players for all the difference it’ll make for their ambitions left for the season.”
I suppose it’s too soon for a gesture like that. I really feel for the Liverpool players. Klopp’s interview confirmed that he and they knew bugger all about it until yesterday. That is scandalous. I can’t see how this has a clean ending, never mind a happy one. This is it, this is armageddon.
More from Jurgen Klopp
“We will try to focus on the game. I heard that there are warm-up shirts [made by Leeds, with ‘EARN IT’ on one side and ‘FOOTBALL IS FOR THE FANS’ on the other]. We will not wear them, we cannot. But if somebody thinks they have to remind us that you have to earn the right to play in the Champions League, that’s a joke, a real joke, and it makes me angry. They have put them in our dressing-room. If it was Leeds’ idea, thank you very much. Nobody has to remind us, maybe they should remind themselves.”
I think he’s got the wrong end of the stick about the T-shirts, but he was a lot more critical than any other manager so far. Fair play to him.
“My wife, a teacher, used the word ‘stakeholders’ in an email recently about groups who had attended a conference and I let rip on how it’s a word I detest – business-speak twaddle,” says Phil West. “The owners of the clubs now call themselves ‘stakeholders’, I wonder when ‘fans’ will become ‘secondary stakeholders’. I am just too old.”
More from Jurgen Klopp
“I have no issues with the Champions League. I like the competitive aspect of football. I like the fact that West Ham can play in the Champions League next year – I don’t want them to, because we want to qualify, but I like that they have the chance.
“What can I say? It’s really not easy. What I want to say is that Liverpool Football Club is much more than some decisions. The most important parts of football are the supporters and the team. We have to make sure nothing gets inbetween that. I’ve heard there are banners at Anfield and stuff like this – I don’t understand that because the players didn’t do anything wrong. We have to all stick together. When other people from other clubs use our anthem against us I don’t like that as well. We can show that nobody has to walk alone in this moment.
“There are things we have to sort, obviously, but it’s nothing to do with the relationship between the supporters and the team. Again, the boys didn’t do anything wrong apart from not winning some football games and I want to make sure that everybody knows that.
“I understand the frustration, I get that, but I’m in a different position. I don’t have all the information. I don’t know exactly why the six clubs did it… It’s always more games, more games. If you say it’s about money for the clubs. What do you think it’s about for Uefa and Fifa? Money, nothing else. Things will change and some things have to change, but usually you have to prepare these things.”
Here’s Jurgen Klopp
“My feelings about a Super League haven’t changed. I heard about it for the first time yesterday. We’ve got some information, not a lot to be honest. It’s a tough one. People are not happy, I can understand that, but I cannot say a lot more because we were not involved in any processes: not the players, not me. We will have to wait and see how it develops.”
One last line from Gary Neville
“This is an attack by six wealthy families on the integrity of our national sport, and it must be stopped.”
More from Gary Neville: “The Glazers need to be booted out of this country”
“I feel slightly complicit. I’ve stayed pretty quiet in terms of the Glazer family over the years. I stayed pretty quiet because I thought when the club became a plc, you knew it could be bought. I believe in free market, generally in life, and I’ve always thought: what’s the answers to the Glazers? Who takes them out: Russia, China, state money?
“I’ve stayed quiet on the basis that it’s still Manchester United, I can still watch the lads play, I can still be happy and sad. If they take dividends out, I can live with it slightly. But what I can’t live with is them attacking every football fan in this country. They have stepped over the mark. They are scavengers. They need booting out of this football club and they need booting out of this country.”
And here’s Gary Neville
“I was half hoping they would rethink it because of the backlash. When I woke up and saw the statement, and it had Joel Glazer’s name on it, I thought, ‘Oh. This is a problem. Big problem.’ He doesn’t put his name on anything that man. He’s intelligent, he knows what he wants. He’s parked his weasels and he’s come out. Once he puts his name on it… he’s gonna try and force this through. They went through hell at Manchester United in the early years. They withstood it. They don’t care. They don’t care.
“I’m enthused by the reaction. But if they get this through – and these owners have pushed difficult things through in the past, they’re steel-like – it’ll change football in this country forever. Forever. We have to now mobilise, organise. It’s definitely not to get emotional and feel sick. Everybody’s gotta come behind this. Forget allegiances. They’re trying to take football away from us.”
The thoughts of Jamie Carragher
“I think supporters up and down the country can stop this, and I think at the forefront of this will be Liverpool, because I’ve seen it before. Football fans: get together, all of us, and stop this. This cannot be allowed to happen.”
Leeds (4-1-4-1) Meslier; Ayling, Llorente, Struijk, Alioski; Phillips; Costa, Dallas, Roberts, Harrison; Bamford.
Substitutes: Casilla, Koch, Berardi, Davis, Hernandez, Klich, Shackleton, Poveda-Ocampo, Gelhardt.
Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Kabak, Robertson; Milner, Thiago, Wijnaldum; Jota, Firmino, Mane.
Substitutes: Adrian, Tsimikas, Davies, R Williams, N Williams, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri, Salah.
Referee Anthony Taylor.
The time in the UK is 6.59pm. We’re one minute away from Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville going off on a monumental one, live on Sky Sports.
“I stopped a lifetime of supporting the NFL ten years ago,” says Mary Waltz. “Fan protest did nothing. This Super League is simply the imposition of the NFL franchise model onto the Premier League. All their talk about improving the pyramid is complete hogwash. As soon as they have this set up they will eventually leave the PL completely. The whole purpose of this league is to avoid the uncertainty of relegation and replace it with a franchise NFL system. I know the NFL. They don’t care about criticism, they know it will fade. They respect two things. Government and legal actions and regulation.
“I fled to the Premier league as a substitute for the NFL.The NFL ruined American football for me. It is trying to do the same to the PL. Don’t let them do it. Call your MP, no matter how you vote, and tell them they have to stop this. Grassroot protest is lovely, I encourage it, but these brutes don’t care about your hurt feelings. The UK government, along with France and Germany, are the only groups who can stop this.”
One thing that does surprise me is that there was so little outrage about Uefa’s Champions League proposals, which involved a partial closing of the shop. Or am I missing something? This is another level of greed and entitlement, I appreciate that.
Thanks for all your emails. I’ll try to read them all but it might be tricky. In the spirit of the times, if you lob me 50 quid I can guarantee publication.
“At least,” says Ian Copestake, “you won’t be debating VAR.”
If they have the nerve to inflict that on us tonight, I’ll do time. I’ll burn Stockley Park to the ground.
We’ve got a couple more new pieces – one from David Baddiel (insert your own Fantasy Football League joke here) and one on the reaction around Europe
“Klopp quitting is exactly the scenario I’ve been imagining,” says Matt Dony. “He’s previously dismissed the idea of a breakaway league, so it’s not the world’s biggest stretch. That kind of principled stance would absolutely wipe out any memories of the struggles of this season. I’m terrified of losing him from Liverpool, (and rationally I am fully aware that it’s a tremendously unlikely outcome; nothing more than a sad fan romanticising a horrible situation), but should events unfold like that, I don’t know what could possibly top it.
“In the big picture, it already feels like it’s gone too far. I don’t know how to fix the rifts that have already developed. Maybe there already isn’t a way to fix them. But I’m sad. I’m sad it’s finally come to this. I’m sad that the millions (and millions) of voices of fans aren’t being listened to. I’m sad that football makes itself so hard to love.”
I can’t see how this gets resolved. It’s shocking but not surprising; let’s be honest, football has been going down the swanny for decades. It’s been happening in plain sight. There is one very small upside, though: we will never again have to watch Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool and the rest preaching from atop the moral high ground.
This is sensational work from Sean Ingle
<straight face>“It is a new format that will sustain the drama, passion and most importantly, the unpredictability that is the lifeblood of our sport” </straight face>
“Good luck for this one Rob, as your email is going to be absolutely chock-a-block,” says Michael Cosgrove. “As for me, a Liverpool fan, all I can say is that if they go through with this I’ll be looking for a new club to support. Two candidates; Newcastle United (soft spot club) and Lincoln City (childhood memories). Or maybe I can support them both? That apart, I’m so looking forward to the interview!”
If Klopp were to quit, live on Sky, half an hour before the match, he would become immortal.
If you’ve been at a digital retreat in the Kerguelen Islands this weekend, you’ll have missed the shocking revelation that [redacted] is the big villain in Line of Duty. There was also something about a European Super League, and a Big Six doing unspeakable things to a golden goose. You can read all about that below. Oh, and Jose Mourinho has been sacked.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Jurgen Klopp being interviewed at Elland Road. Let’s be honest, that’s why we’re all here. We’re going to stick around for the post-interview entertainment, too, an association football match between Leeds and Liverpool. It’s an important game for Liverpool, who need to finish one of the top four divisions if they are to qualify for next season’s European Super League. Can they do it?
Kick off 8pm for the football, 7pm for the TV coverage, in which Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville demonstrate their full vocal range.